Are Toll-Free Phone Numbers Obsolete?

A toll-free phone number used to be vital for most building product businesses. Long distance charges were high, so the free call made it easier for out-of-town prospects to dial in. Having an 800 number was also perceived as a red carpet that made customers feel welcome.

But times have changed. Competition among long distance providers have caused prices to tumble. Many callers have unlimited service plans that do not charge extra for long distance. Voice Over Internet Protocols (VOIP), Skype, and other internet-based telephones are virtually free. An increasing number of sales inquiries come via e-mail rather than by phone. And toll-free numbers aren't useful in for calls from international clients - an increasingly important part of the construction business.

With this in mind, one of my clients just eliminated their toll-free number from their website.

What do you think? Is it still important for a building product company to publish a toll-free number?

I would love to hear from readers with thoughts about this.